Rising grocery costs: the price of onions alone will make you cry

Some grocery items have seen big price increases over the past year. Picture: Greta Hoffman/Pexels

Some grocery items have seen big price increases over the past year. Picture: Greta Hoffman/Pexels

Published Jul 25, 2023


If onions, potatoes, and chicken giblets are regular items in your grocery basket, you may want to relook your meal planning.

From June 2022 to June 2023, the price of onions almost doubled, jumping from R15,63/kg to R27,09/kg.

This is a 73,3% increase that you may not have noticed because each month the price was rising by about 6,5%.

Items that have come down in price include beef offal, sunflower oil, and rice.

Potatoes cost R13,58/kg last year, but now sell for R18,13/kg – 33,5% more, while chicken giblets have seen a price increase of 21,4% over the past 12 months, going from R38,45/kg to R46,69/kg, according to the National Agricultural Marketing Council’s (NAMC) July basic food basket price review.

Other grocery items that saw the highest food price increases include white sugar, cabbage, ceylon/black tea, baked beans, and cheddar cheese.

The food cost review shows these groceries to have increased the most from June last year to June this year:

Prices that decreased, or showed low levels of inflation are:

When comparing June 2023 prices to June 2022, the food group that contributed the most to the observed food inflation was vegetables, which saw a substantial increase of 31.0%. This was followed by:

  • sugary foods – increase of 18,2%
  • dairy and eggs – increase of 13,6%
  • coffee and tea – increase of 12,7%
  • fruits – increase of 9.1%
  • bean products – increase of 8.8%
  • bread and cereals – increase of 7.8%.

On the other hand, animal protein experienced the smallest increase, with only 0,8%, while fats and oils decreased by 9,7%, NAMC reports.

On a monthly basis, sugary foods recorded the highest price increase of 9,0%, followed by bean products with 1,9%, and dairy and eggs with a marginal increase of 0,2%. The prices of coffee and tea remained unchanged.

However, the report says that there were decreases in the prices of animal protein and vegetables (0,8%), bread & cereals (0,9%), fats and oils (1,9%) and fruits (5,7%).

“In summary, when considering both year-on-year and month-on-month comparisons, the prices of vegetables and sugary foods showed significant increases, while fats and oils exhibited notable decreases.

Picture: NAMC

Urban vs rural food prices

The review also compared the cost of selected food items in urban areas against those in rural areas for June 2023. Maize meal was the food item with the largest price difference of R2,58 between urban and rural areas, followed by peanut butter (R1,53), white sugar (R1,14), a loaf of white bread (R0,91), a loaf of brown bread (R0,55), bananas (R0,49) and Ceylon/black tea (R0,11).

Rural consumers spent more on sunflower oil, full-cream long-life milk and rice than their urban counterparts. On average, the price difference paid between urban and rural consumers for these 11 food items was 42 cents.

Picture: NAMC